Adam Silver

And-Ones: Felder, Yao Ming, China

Kay Felder is a potential target for China’s Xinjiang Flying Tigers, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando reports. The team is expected to sign either Felder or Ty Lawson to replace another former NBA player, Ian Clark, who is sidelined by a finger injury.

A second-round pick by the Cavaliers in 2016, Felder was waived by the Raptors’ G League team in December after a domestic violence allegation. Felder, who appeared in 58 NBA games for Cleveland, Chicago and Detroit, played for Xinjiang last season after he was waived. The Flying Tigers’ interest in Lawson was previously reported.

We have more from the basketball world:

  • There doesn’t seem to be a star on the level of Yao Ming coming from China in the near future, Marc Spears of ESPN writes. Currently, there are no Chinese players who could make a sure-fire impact in the NBA and commissioner Adam Silver hopes that will change. “It frustrates me that there are no Chinese players in the NBA,” he said. “There’s probably more basketball being played in China than anywhere else in the world. And more NBA basketball is being watched in China than anywhere else in the world.”
  • An Atlantic City, NJ casino owned by Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta can now accept bets on NBA games, according to Wayne Parry of the Associated Press. New Jersey governor Phil Murphy has signed a bill allowing Atlantic City’s Golden Nugget casino, owned by Fertitta, to handle NBA bets that don’t involve the Rockets.
  • Former Hawks guard Malcolm Delaney will play in Spain this season. Get the details here.

Adam Silver Talks Free Agency, Trade Requests, More

After a frenzied “pre-agency” period this summer which saw a number of high-profile free agents reportedly reach contract agreements with teams even before free agency officially opened on the evening of June 30, commissioner Adam Silver told reporters on Tuesday night that the NBA has some “work to do” on the rules surrounding free agency and tampering.

“It’s still the same principles of fair balance of power and a sense that it’s a level playing field,” Silver said, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “I think that’s what teams want to know. I think they’re put in difficult situations because when they’re sitting across from a player and – whether it’s conversations that are happening earlier than they should or frankly things are being discussed that don’t fall squarely within the Collective Bargaining Agreement – it puts teams in a very difficult position because they are reading or hearing that other teams are doing other things to compete.”

As Bontemps details, Silver acknowledged that the NBA’s current tampering rules can be difficult to enforce, and that the league should be focused on establishing rules that can be enforced — otherwise, there’s little point in having them in place.

“I think the sense in the room was we should revisit those rules, think about what does make sense for our teams so that ultimately we can create a level playing field among the teams and that the partner teams have confidence that their competitors are adhering to the same set of rules they are,” Silver said.

Silver weighed in on several other topics during his Las Vegas press conference on Tuesday, so we’ll round up a few of the highlights, via Bontemps, Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press, and Brian Lewis of The New York Post.

On star players asking to be traded:

“It concerns all of us. I mean, it falls in the same category of issues of the so-called rule of law within a sports league. You have a contract and it needs to be meaningful on both sides. On one hand, there’s an expectation if you have a contract and it’s guaranteed that the team is going to meet the terms of the contract, and the expectation on the other side is the player is going to meet the terms of the contract.

“I will say, without getting into any specific circumstances, trade demands are disheartening. They’re disheartening to the team. They’re disheartening to the community and don’t serve the player well. The players care about their reputations just as much. And so that’s an issue that needs to be addressed.”

On many of 2019’s very best free agents choosing to go to big markets (Kawhi Leonard to the Clippers; Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to the Nets):

“I think you have unique circumstances with those players and those teams. But I think it speaks to the fact that the significance of these brands, the fact that the Nets and Clippers have put themselves in position over the last few years to be attractive to top free agents. So I think at the end of the day, it’s positive for the league.

“… I’m mindful of this notion of balance of power, and I think it applies in many different ways. An appropriate balance of power between the teams and the players, an appropriate balance of power I’d say among all our 30 teams, big markets, small markets, some markets that are perceived as being more attractive than others, tax issues, climate issues. At the end of the day, you want to make sure you have a league where every team is in a position to compete.”

On draft-night trades that aren’t yet official, resulting in draftees wearing the wrong team’s hat and – in some cases – not being on the right team by the start of Summer League:

“We’ve got to fix that. We talk about being fan-friendly, and that isn’t fan-friendly.”

And-Ones: Casspi, Sampson, Expansion, Armstrong

Veteran forward Omri Casspi has overseas options if he doesn’t get an NBA offer in free agency. Two prominent teams, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Olimpia Milano, are interested in signing Casspi, according to Davide Chinellato of La Gazzetta dello Sport (hat tip to Sportando). Casspi came off the bench in 36 games last season with the Grizzlies, averaging 6.3 PPG and 3.2 RPG. Casspi, 31, has played for a handful of NBA teams since the 2016/17 season and is a career 36.8% 3-point shooter.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • JaKarr Sampson has signed with Shandong in the Chinese Basketball Association, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando reports. Sampson played six games with Shandong last season and 24 G league games with the Windy City Bulls. The 26-year-old forward also appeared in four games with the NBA Bulls last season and has 173 NBA games under his belt.
  • The Las Vegas Summer League has been highly successful but there are no plans for the league to expand in that city or anywhere else, according to Mark Anderson of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Commissioner Adam Silver said that expansion is “not on our agenda right now.” Silver also reiterated there are no plans to relocate a current franchise. “There have been no indications from any of our current franchises that they’re considering relocating,” Silver said.
  • Terry Armstrong, a 2020 draft prospect, will play South East Melbourne Phoenix of the Australian National Basketball League, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony reports. The 6’7” Armstrong is currently rated No. 40 by Givony. No. 6 prospect RJ Hampton and No. 24 prospect LaMelo Ball have also signed with the NBL. Armstrong played for four high schools in three different states.

NBA Ponders Changes To Scheduling, Number Of Regular Season Games

As one of the more progressive leagues in the world, the NBA continues to explore changes to enhance the quality of its product. Altering the schedule to reduce the number of games per season is among the changes the league is exploring, Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com passes along.

All conversations are in the earliest of stages, though top executives from around the league recently had a “brainstorming session,” in which ideas on changing the schedule and adding a mid-season cup and/or postseason play-in tournament were discussed. Arnovitz suggests the talks were “very exploratory,” adding that even if changes were proposed and implemented, it wouldn’t happen before the 2021/22 season.

While “load management” issues have caused debate over the league’s 82-game schedule, Arnovitz writes that executives from teams and the league have made an economic case for shortening the number of games. Increasing the scarcity of events and ensuring that each game would be more competitive – with fewer marquee players sitting out – are among the arguments for a change.

Supporters of a schedule alteration believe that the pair of potential tournaments would also help to offset the revenue decline that comes with reducing the games on the schedule.

Arnovitz hears that there isn’t much interest in drastically cutting down the number of games. Options discussed ranged from implementing a 58-game schedule to simply cutting just a handful of contests.

The NBA would need to collectively bargain any changes to the schedule, as the CBA requires the league to make reasonable efforts to increase revenue. A reduction in games could be seen by the players as an attempt to reduce Basketball Related Income.

Giannis Antetokounmpo Named League MVP

Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo was named the league’s Most Valuable Player on Monday. NBA commissioner Adam Silver made the announcement at the league’s annual awards show.

Last year’s winner, Rockets guard James Harden, and Thunder forward Paul George were the other finalists.

Antetokounmpo’s overall excellence while leading the Bucks to a 60-22 record was enough to beat out Harden’s big scoring numbers. The Greek Freak averaged 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.5 blocks. Harden averaged 36.1 points, the highest total since Michael Jordan averaged 37.1 during the 1986/87 season.

The voting wasn’t as close as expected. Antetokounmpo received 78 of the 101 first-place votes and was second on the other 23 ballots. Harden had the reverse, with 23 first-place votes and 78 second-place selections.

The Bucks dominated the awards ceremony, as Mike Budenholzer won Coach of the Year and GM Jon Horst was named Executive of the Year.

Harden was Hoops Rumors’ consensus choice.

Links to the other major awards handed out on Monday can be found below:

Silver Believes New Lottery System Will Decrease Tanking

NBA commissioner Adam Silver believes the new lottery system has decreased the incentive to tank, as he told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols in an interview relayed by ESPN’s Royce Young.

Silver believes the former system created a “destructive” mindset in which teams intentionally waved the white flag in order to improve their future prospects. Fans bought into that mentality and preferred to see their team lose, simply to get a better draft choice.

“Hopefully, it’ll stop fans in those markets from rooting for their teams to perform poorly,” Silver said. “Because that race to the bottom is just destructive, I think, for everyone. Corrosive for players and franchises, and I think, in some cases, even some executives who knew better felt they couldn’t withstand the pressure from the communities, from the media in some cases, saying, ‘Why are you operating at this level when you should either get much better or much worse?'”

In the first year under the new system, the Pelicans moved to the top spot despite having only a six percent chance of getting that pick. The bottom three teams in the league had just a 14 percent chance to win the lottery, compared to 25 percent under the previous system. The new lottery also determined the top four picks, instead of top three.

The Knicks, who had the worst record, dropped to third, and the Cavaliers and Suns, who were tied for the second-most losses, wound up with the fifth and sixth picks.

“I think in this case now with the change in the lottery, people are going to realize that there’s only one way to build a franchise,” Silver said. “Of course, you need to get great players, but at the same time you need to build culture, you need strong management, you need strong coaching. And players incrementally get better year after year.”

Adam Silver Spoke To Zion Williamson

Appearing on the latest episode of PodcastOne Sports Now with Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press (h/t to NBA.com), NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told Reynolds that he has already offered the all-but-assured No. 1 overall pick of the Pelicans, Duke’s Zion Williamson, a little bit of advice on how to enjoy the process of beginning an NBA career.

First off, despite the drama surrounding the Anthony Davis situation in New Orleans right now, Silver says Williamson is fortunate that new president of basketball operations David Griffin was hired, as he is the “right guy at the right time” for the Pelicans, especially since he has the unenviable task of determining whether or not – and perhaps when – to trade Davis. As for the actual advice given to Williamson, Silver said:

“(F)ocus on your game first and foremost the other stuff will come after it. But (that being said), this is a special moment in your life… to the extent you can remain in the moment. There’s so much attention focused on you and at the end of the day this is a game and you now have the opportunity to play it at the highest level. There’s tremendous resources available to you no matter what team drafts you.”

It continues to look more and more unlikely that Davis and Williamson will get to play together in The Big Easy, but that may ultimately be in Williamson’s best interest, as he should be the go-to guy immediately. Moreover, the haul the Pelicans will get in return for Davis should be a nice supporting cast with which to surround Williamson.

Adam Silver Talks Expansion, Politics, Fan Behavior

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver gave his annual state-of-the-league address at Scotiabank Arena ahead of Game 1 He spoke about expansion among a bevy of topics, as Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press relays.

“We are just not in expansion mode at the time,” Silver said. “We’re flattered that other Canadian cities have expressed interest, as some other U.S. cities have, but again, nothing new. I’ve said this before: We, meaning the NBA collectively, all our team owners are very focused on creating the best possible competition among the 30 teams.”

Should expansion occur, Las Vegas and Seattle are likely contenders for teams.

“I’m sure inevitably, at some point, we’ll turn back to expansion,” Silver said. “But that’s not on the agenda at this time.”

Silver touched on the ongoing trade and tariff clash between the United States and China, declaring that he’s “not concerned at this time.”

“Of course, we’re not immune from global politics,” Silver said. “It’s something that we’re paying a lot of attention to. I look, though, to sports — and this is something Yao and I have discussed — where we can use basketball maybe in the way ping-pong was used in the days of Richard Nixon. There could be something called ‘basketball diplomacy.’”

Silver spoke on the Clippers’ situation with the Staples Center and their desire to move to a new arena. The team currently shares its home with the Lakers and the Los Angeles Kings of the NHL.

“I think from a league standpoint, if you had both teams in the playoffs, plus a successful hockey team there, it becomes very difficult for us for scheduling purposes,” Silver said. “So in terms of the overall marketplace and the concert marketplace, I can’t speak to that. But maybe purely out of self-interest for the NBA, it would be helpful to have another arena in town.”

Fan behavior was another topic during the commissioner’s speech. Russell Westbrook was heckled and allegedly received racist taunts by a fan in Utah. Silver said the league did not need to step in because of how the franchise handled the situation.

“We have such tremendous confidence in the Miller family, and Gail Miller as the principal owner, I thought by her taking the court prior to the following game, speaking directly to the people in that community and saying, ‘This does not represent our community,’ I think that was much more powerful than me issuing a statement from all the way across country in the New York,” Silver said. “I think they handled it very well.”

Silver also weighed in on the antics of entertainer Drake, who has sat courtside during many Raptors games this postseason. During the Eastern Conference Finals, Drake wandered from his seat and gave coach Nick Nurse a shoulder rub.

“We certainly appreciate his super-fan status, and I know he’s beloved in the community of Toronto,” Silver said. “I think certainly we don’t want fans, friend or foe, contacting an NBA coach during a game.”

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Kings, Clippers

Another unflattering story on the state of the Lakers was published on Tuesday, with the latest report from ESPN portraying the inner workings of one of the NBA’s marquee franchises in a particularly negative light. Despite the revelations included in that story, commissioner Adam Silver remains said in an appearance on ESPN’s Get Up on Wednesday morning that he still has “tremendous” confidence in the Lakers’ leaders to turn things around.

“I know [Lakers owner] Jeanie [Buss] knows how to manage a team,” Silver said, per Malika Andrews of ESPN.com. “Sure, when things start to go wrong, a lot of fingers get pointed. But they’ll figure it out.”

Silver’s name actually came up in ESPN’s report on the Lakers, with sources detailing an anecdote about LeBron James‘ agent Rich Paul approaching the commissioner at a lunch and complaining about then-coach Luke Walton. During today’s appearance on Get Up, Silver confirmed that interaction took place.

“He was in the same restaurant,” Silver said of Paul. “There were two people sitting there. He sat down for a second, and I think he said something along the lines that ‘Luke Walton is not the right guy to coach LeBron.’ My reaction was to shrug my shoulders and maybe say, ‘Well, who do you think is the right guy to coach?’ And he mentioned a name and that was that.

“I think he just wanted to say it out loud,” Silver added. “I don’t think he had any expectation that I would repeat that to anyone.”

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • The Kings are hosting their fifth pre-draft workout at their practice facility on Wednesday, the team announced in a press release. Sacramento listed Anthony Cowan (Maryland), Barry Brown (Kansas State), Alpha Diallo (Providence), Amir Coffey (Minnesota), Robert Franks (Washington State), and Dedric Lawson (Kansas) as the participants, though Cowan and Diallo are both expected to pull out of the draft before tonight’s NCAA withdrawal deadline.
  • While the Clippers always expected to make a play for a top free agent or two this summer, the team didn’t expect to already have two long-term building blocks in its backcourt by this point, writes Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. As Greif outlines, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Landry Shamet both look like keepers for the franchise.
  • The legal battle over the Clippers‘ efforts to build a new arena in Inglewood continues, per Nathan Fenno of The Los Angeles Times. According to Fenno, the L.A. County’s district attorney’s office found that the Inglewood City Council violated state law by approving an agreement with a Clippers-controlled company allowing it to explore building an arena in the city, but the D.A. didn’t take any action because the time limit to “remedy the violation” had passed.

Adam Silver Considering Adding Tournament To NBA Schedule

Adam Silver is not opposed to change. The NBA commissioner is open to handing out another trophy aside from the Larry O’Brien and he’s watching the European soccer leagues closely as he evaluates a possible plan to hand out another prize during the NBA’s regular season, as Marc Stein of the New York Times relays.

“It’s incumbent on me to constantly be looking at other organizations and seeing what it is we can do better and learn from them,” Silver told Stein. “In the case of European soccer, I think there is something we can learn from them.”

“I also recognize I’m up against some of the traditionalists who say no one will care about that other competition, that other trophy, you create. And my response to that is, ‘Organizations have the ability to create new traditions.’ It won’t happen overnight.”

Both a mid-season tournament and a play-in playoff tournament are concepts that the league is “studying fairly intensely,” per Stein. To make any change with the league’s current 82-game format, Silver will have to have cooperation from the players and the owners. Stein writes that the league’s TV partners would have “considerable input” as well. No formal proposal has been submitted at this time.

“I’m looking at things from a fan standpoint,” Silver said. “I’m looking at how to create the most exciting season and experience, especially in a rapidly changing media market where fans are in essence voting every day whether they want to watch your product.”

“Another marker for me is that we’re a few seasons away from our 75th anniversary,” Silver continued, referring to the 2021/22 campaign. “I think that milestone gives us a pillar around which to think about the history of the league and experiment — maybe just for the 75th anniversary — with some potential changes.”

The league “does not want to change the length of the season,” Silver tells Stein. If the tournament is added to the 82-game schedule, teams may see a more condensed schedule than they had this past season.

“The most-watched league in the world is only 27 years old,” Silver said, referring to soccer’s Premier League. “So the idea that the NBA can’t create new traditions over time makes no sense to me.”

Phasing out the All-Star game could be another change that Silver brings. Adding a potential tournament during All-Star weekend alongside a 3-point and dunk contest is a possibility.

Neither of the tournament options is definitely on the horizon but Silver said that “change is inevitable.”

Should the NBA add a tournament during the regular season or a play-in tournament at season’s end? Should they replace the All-Star game with a new-wave idea?

Let us know your thoughts below. We look forward to what you have to say!